When animals attack: Troops injured by elephants, snakes and foxes (Kenya)


Ben Farmer, The Telegraph

Date Published

More than 20 soldiers have suffered attacks by animals in the past decade as they carry out exercises in wild training grounds.

In one of the most recent incidents, a soldier from 3rd Bn The Parachute Regiment was gored through the right arm in October last year when he was charged by an elephant at Lolldaiga training ground in Kenya.

In another attack in March 2015, a soldier of the Duke of Lancaster’s Regiment was gored through the leg after he was charged when he inadvertently blocked a cow from her calf.

“He was taken to hospital and we all went up to see him. The lads bought him a wooden elephant as a momento,” recalled one officer.

Soldiers from 2nd Bn Royal Anglian Regiment, 2nd Bn parachute Regiment and 1st Bn Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders have all had close calls in the past decade after being trampled by elephants that can weight 14,000lb.

Snake bites form the majority of incidents from the past decade, according to the list released under the Freedom of Information Act.

Troops have been bitten in Kenya, Belize, Canada, Italy, Sierra Leone and Germany. Snake bites have also occurred closer to home. Several soldiers have been treated after being bitten by adders in Britain.

One soldier from 26 Regiment Royal Artillery “sustained bites and scratch marks on his back, arms and legs when he was attacked by a fox” on exercise with US troops in Grafenwoehr in eastern Germany.

Extensive military training grounds used by British troops around the world often form havens for wildlife as they are left largely untouched apart from occasional military drills.

Britain is helping build an elephant fence around the area used by its Army training unit in Kenya, to protect elephants from poachers and also protect the crops of residents.

Work on the 100 mile fence began last week, with Britain providing a quarter of the £600,000 cost. The Laikipia area is home to over 6,300 elephants and the Army trains around 10,000 troops a year there.

Col Tom Vallings, commander of the British Army Training Unit Kenya, said: “The Laikipia fence will protect farmers, elephants and help sustain training areas and we are very pleased to contribute to this project.”